Proceduralization and Skill-specificity of English Modals as a Result of Input Form-focused Practice

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics, Department of Foreign Languages, Sheikhbahaee University, Isfahan, Iran


This study aims to investigate the effect of input form-focused practice on the proceduralization of English modals. It also addresses the possibility of skills becoming specific to the context of practice. A pre-test, post-test and delayed post-test design was used where the procedural knowledge was specifically operationalized through the groups‘ performance on a timed dual- task JG test, and skill-specificity through a timed dual-task completion test. Two intact classes of intermediate EFL learners were randomly assigned to an input and a control-group. The input-group received explicit grammar instruction and a combination of three input tasks. The control-group was just exposed to the identical texts followed by some questions irrelevant to the target structure. Results showed that on the post-test, the input-group outperformed the control group in both measures of procedural knowledge, and skill-specificity. The group was capable of comprehension as well as production of the target structure.


Anderson, J. R.(Ed.). (1993). Rules of the mind. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Anderson, J. R. (1983). The architecture of cognition. Cambridge, MA:   Harvard University Press.
Anderson, J. R., & Lebiere, C. (1998). The atomic components of thought. Mahvah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Benati, A. (2005). The effects of processing instruction, traditional instruction and meaning-output instruction on the acquisition of the English past simple tense. Language Teaching Research, 9, 67-93.
Brown, H. D. (2003). Language assessment: Principles and classroom practices. White Plains, NY. Pearson Education: Longman
Cadierno, T. (1995). Formal instruction from a processing perspective: An investigation into the Spanish past tense. Modern Language Journal, 79, 179-93.
 Carlson, R. A. (2003). Skill learning. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (Vol.4, pp. 36-42). London: Macmillan.  
De Graaff , R. (1997). The eXperanto experiment: Effects of explicit instruction on second language acquisition. Studies in second language acquisition.  19, 249-297.
DeKeyser, R. M. (1995). Learning second language grammar rules: An experiment with a miniature linguistic system. Studies in second language acquisition, 17, 379-410. 
DeKeyser, R. (1997). Beyond explicit rule learning: Automatizing second language morphosyntax. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19 (2), 195–221.
DeKeyser, R. M. (2007). Practice in a second language: Perspectives from applied linguistics and cognitive psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
DeKeyser, R. M., Salaberry, R., Robinson, P., & Harrington, M. (2002). What gets processed in processing instruction? A commentary on Bill VanPatten’s “Processing instruction: An update.” Language Learning, 52 (4), 805-23.
DeKeyser, R., & Sokalski, K. (1996). The differential role of comprehension and production practice. Language Learning, 46 (4), 613-42.
Dornyei, Z. (2009). The psychology of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
Driskell, J. E., Willis, R. P., & Cooper, C. (1992). Effect of overlearning on retention. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 615-622.
Ellis, R. (1992). Second language acquisition and language pedagogy. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters
Ellis, R. (1993). Second language acquisition and the structural syllabus.  TESOL Quarterly, 27, 91-113
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ellis, R. (2004). Task-based language learning and teaching, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ellis, R. (2005). Principles of instructed language learning. System, 33, 209-224.
Ellis, R. (2006). Selective attention and transfer phenomena in L2 acquisition: Contingency, cue competition, salience, interference, overshadowing, blocking, and perceptual learning. Applied Linguistics, 27, 164-194.
Ellis, R. (2009). Measuring implicit and explicit knowledge of a second language. In R. Ellis, S. Loewen, C. Elder, R. Erlam, J. Philp, & H. Reinders (Eds.), Implicit and explicit knowledge in second language learning,testing and teaching (pp. 31-64). Bristol, Buffalo, Totonto. Multilingual Matters.  
Erlam, R., Loewen, S., & Philp, R. (2009). Implicit and explicit corrective feedback and the acquisition of L2 grammar. In R. Ellis, S. Loewen, C. Elder, R. Erlam, J. Philp, & H. Reinders (Eds.), Implicit and explicit knowledge in second language learning, testing and teaching (pp. 303-332). Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto. Multilingual matters.
Farley, A. P. (2004). Processing instruction and the Spanish subjunctive: Is explicit information needed? In B.Van Patten (Ed.), Processing instruction: Theory, research, and commentary (pp. 227-39). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Gass, S., & Selinker, L. (1994). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 
Izumi, S. (2002). Output, input enhancement, and the noticing hypothesis: An experimental study on ESL relativization. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24 (4), 541-77.
Izumi, S. (2003). Comprehension and production processes in second language learning: In search of the psycholinguistic rationale of the output hypothesis. Applied Linguistics, 24 (2), 168-96.
Krashen, S. (1985).  The input hypothesis: Issues and implications.  London: Longman.
Loewen, S. (2009). Grammaticality judgment tests and the measurement of implicit and explicit L2 knowledge. In R. Ellis, S. Loewen, C. Elder, R. Erlam, J. Philp, & H. Reinders (Eds.), Implicit and explicit knowledge in second language learning, testing and teaching (pp. 94-112). Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto. Multilingual matters.
Muranoi, H. (2007). Output practice in the L2 classroom. In C. Dekeyser (Ed.), Practice in a second language: Perspectives from applied linguistics and cognitive psychology (pp. 52-84). Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
Paas, F., & van Merrienboer, J. J. G. (1994). Variability of worked
       examples and transfer of geometric problem-solving skills: A
       cognitive load approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86,
Pienemann, M. (1982). Is language teachable?  Psycholinguistic experiment and hypotheses.  Applied Linguistics, 10, 52-79.
Qin, J. (2008). The effect of processing instruction and dictogloss tasks on acquisition of the English passive voice. Language teaching research, 12 (1), 61-82.
Ranzijn, F. J. A. (1991). The number of video examples and the dispersion of examples as instructional design variables in teaching concepts.  Journal of Experimental Education, 59, 320-330.
Schmidt, R. (1983). Interaction, acculturation and the acquisition of communication competence. In M. Wolfson, & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and second language Acquisition (pp. 137-174).  Rowley, MA: Newbury House.    
Schmidt, R. (2001). Attention. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 3-32). Cambridge University Press.
Schmidt, R. (2010). Attention, awareness, and individual differences in language learning. In W. M. Chan, S. Chi, K. N. Cin, J. Istanto, M. Nagami, J. W. Sew, T. Suthiwan, & I. Walker, Proceedings of CLaSIC 2010 (pp. 721-737).Singapore, Centre for language studies.
 Schmidt, R. A., & Bjork, R. A. (1992). New conceptualizations of practice: Common principles in three paradigms suggest new concepts for training. Psychological Science, 3 (4), 207-17.
Shapiro, D. C., & Schmidt, R. A. (1982). The schema theory: Recent evidence and developmental implications. In J. A. S. Kelso & J. E. Clark (Eds.), The development of movement control and coordination (pp. 113-150). New York: Wiley. 
Speelman, C. P., & Kirsner, K. (2005). Beyond the Learning Curve: The construction of mind. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
Swain, M. (1988). Manipulating and complementing content teaching to maximize second language learning. TESL Canada Journal, 6, 68-83.
VanPatten, B. (1996). Input processing and grammar instruction: Theory and research. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
VanPatten, B. (2003). From input to output: A teacher’s guide to second language acquisition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
VanPatten, B. (2004). Processing instruction: Theory, research and commentary.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.  
Van Patten, B., & Sanz, C. (1995). From input to output: Processing instruction and communicative tasks. In F. Eckman, D. Highland, P. Lee, J. Mileham, & R. Weber (Eds.), Second language acquisition theory and pedagogy (pp. 169-185). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Volume 3, Issue 1
November 2014
Pages 1-23
  • Receive Date: 24 November 2018
  • Accept Date: 24 November 2018